Microsoft staff query MSPAC donations to Trump-supporting senators

United States President Donald Trump listens to Microsoft President Brad Smith (left) speak in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on May 29, 2020 during a panel discussion with industry executives about the country’s reopening.

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

A handful of Microsoft employees spoke out against the software company’s campaign contributions on Twitter after Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, said in a Twitter post on Monday that the company was in favor of a peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden.

The dispute concerns the Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC), through which employees can donate money to state and state candidates and other committees. MSPAC’s first submissions to the US Federal Electoral Commission date back to 1988, two years after Microsoft went public. The group has long given to both Democrats and Republicans.

The flare-up came days before the January 6 hearing, where Congress will gather to approve the electoral college result of the 2020 presidential election, in which Biden outperformed incumbent Donald Trump. Since the election, Trump has made several unsuccessful attempts to challenge election results in several states where he lost. In a phone call on Saturday, Trump asked the Georgian foreign minister to “find” enough votes for the president to topple Biden’s state profits. This is evident from records released after the call.

Eleven Republican Senators have joined Trump saying they would try to postpone the confirmation of votes on Wednesday. They cited allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election for which they did not provide evidence and which have repeatedly been rejected by courts across the country.

On Monday, Smith signed a letter insisting that Congress accept the results of the electoral college.

A Microsoft employee, Jake Friedman, responded to Smith’s call on Twitter by asking if Microsoft should stop giving to people who want to stand in the way of a smooth transition. Friedman posted a screenshot detailing a $ 2,000 donation to a committee supporting Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican representative who ran for re-election in November and won. In December, Jordan told Fox News that he was up for “a real January 6th debate.”

Microsoft employee Mike O’Neill thanked Friedman for Tuesday’s tweet and said he had requested a cancellation of future donations to MSPAC.

Another Microsoft employee, Brandon Paddock, suggests discontinuing MSPAC or blocking MSPAC posts for people who stand in the way of democratic principles Smith mentioned in his tweet.

Smith did not respond to the criticism.

“We weigh a number of factors in order to make political contribution decisions, and will consider these and other aspects in future contribution decisions,” a Microsoft spokesman told CNBC on Tuesday in an email.

The question of how MSPAC posts fit Microsoft’s ideals, such as privacy, was asked in November after journalist Judd Legum pointed out an MSPAC contribution of $ 2,500 to a group calling for the re-election of the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from the south supports Carolina. In June, Graham introduced legislation to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to access encrypted data. Graham was re-elected in November.

Microsoft employees have taken up the message from Legum.

One of them, Justin Schoen, said he would reconsider his contribution to MSPAC.

“We recognize that we need to deal with candidates and officials who have different views in order to make progress on issues that are important to our customers and our business,” a Microsoft spokesman told CNBC. “Given the breadth of our political agenda, we are unlikely to agree on all issues, but we have learned that engagement – even when individuals hold different positions – is an integral part of progress.”

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